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SECTION IV. VOCAL CULTURE
It is the Purpose of Vocal Culture to develop that which is good in the voice, correct its imperfections, and acquire skill in its use.
The chief attributes of a good voice are (1) Purity, (2) Strength, and (3) Flexibility. If well developed in these directions a voice is capable of responding to every requirement in expression.
1. Purity of tone requires free vibration of the vocal cords, healthfulness of the resonant cavities, and the vocalization of all the breath used.
2. Strength depends upon the breadth of vibrations and the power to project and sustain tones.
3. Flexibility is dependent upon the elasticity of the vocal cords and the power to vary tones through the scale of Pitch.
Vocal culture is dependent upon correct breathing. If the method of breathing is correct, vocalization becomes voice culture. But even with the best of methods the voice must not be overworked. The speaker should not strain to reach a degree of intensity beyond his vocal strength. The voice is a delicate instrument and must be developed gradually. It must have rest, and time to grow. Training should be vigorous but not violent, and one should cease practice when the organs are tired. A speaker who fails to replenish his vocal powers or produces tone by wrong methods draws upon his stock of vitality whenever he speaks, and his ultimate breaking down is only a question of time.
Voice culture is more reasonable and more progressive if given under the mental condition implied in the tones used. As the brain controls the vital functions of the body one should think the thought and feel the emotion embodied in the sounds given. This idea should be kept steadily in view not only in the exercises given in this section but in those which follow each of the vocal elements treated in Part II.
1. CARE OF THE VOICE
Diseases of the vocal organs come quite as much from general disturbances as from colds and sore throat. Sickness of any kind weakens the voice, and nothing so surely as a disordered digestion. If the voice be subjected to heavy strain when the body is in a weak condition, it tends to weaken the voice permanently. Nothing promotes vigor of vocal power so much as good health, and nothing is so essential to good health as regular habits of eating, sleeping, bathing, and
Physical exercise should be vigorous, but not violent or excessive. Those exercises are best which develop the chief factors of good health, — (1) the heart, (2) the lungs, (3) the digestive apparatus, and (4) the nervous system.
These exercises should be carried on regularly and with intelligence. The best exercise is a game of some kind, preferably in the open air, which keeps the mind intent on the point to be gained and not on the exercise necessary to health. The best of such games are golf and tennis. Other forms of exercise are walking, wheeling, rowing, fencing, and, what is less exhilarating, the various forms of exercise in a well-equipped gymnasium. In all these exercises the end sought should be vitality and not brawn. After vigorous exercise the body should not be exposed to draughts but should be allowed to assume its normal temperature gradually.
The public speaker should not use the voice vigorously very soon after a meal, or in a cold room, or in the open air in raw, cold weather. The body should be warmly clothed but the neck and throat should not be too closely bound up.
The very prevalent habit of drinking cold water during the progress of a speech is much to be condemned. A prominent physician says: "To drink cold water during a speech has much the same effect on the throat as pouring water on a redhot stove." It produces congestion.
We would caution also against the habit of using troches to clear the voice. Many of them contain opiates, which for a time may stimulate the voice, but which in the end are a positive injury.
It is gratifying to note that educators are more fully appreciating the value of physical education; and along with opportunities for mental development large, well-equipped gymnasiums and athletic fields are being provided for students and placed under the direction of men skilled in the art of physical development. All such development tends to strengthen the voice.
2. VOCAL EXERCISES
In practicing the following exercises first give the phonetic sound four times and then pronounce the word containing the sound. For example, ä ä - ä ä arm; g-g—g—
g-gun; p-p-p-p— pope.
(1) For clearness, strength, and evenness of tone:
(2) For development of the trachea, larynx, and pharynx :
in notes of song on C, E, and G of the musical scale. Follow this drill with the sounds of ā, ä, a, ō, given separately with tones placed as suggested.
(7) For range and flexibility of voice:
Sound the vowels ā, ē, ī, ō, ū, oi, ou, up and down the scale in spoken tones, as though in question and answer,
Did I say āor ā; ēdor ē 9.
After using the words of the question a few times omit them and speak the vowels, thus:
In this exercise let the tone cover at least five notes of the
a. In the above table of exercises combine each consonant
singly with all the vowels in the opposite column, as ba, be, bi,
b. Reverse the order of exercises, combining each vowel singly with all the consonants in the opposite column, as ab, ad, ag, am, an, av, az; eb, ed, eg, em, etc.
These may be given in speech notes as in exercise (7), rising and falling on each combination.
Pronunciation is the utterance in a single impulse of the elements that constitute a word. To pronounce well one must hear good pronunciation. It must become a habit, nature, - and so easy as not to attract attention.
The pronunciation of words is established by the usage of people of high social and intellectual culture. The dictionary is a record of that usage and should be followed by the masses.
I. PHONETIC SOUNDS
The phonetic sounds used in pronunciation are divided into three classes, (1) Tonics, (2) Subtonics, and (3) Atonics. 1. Tonics are clear, open, unobstructed tones. All vowels and diphthongs are of this class, e.g. a, e, o, ae, oi, etc.
Subtonics are tones modified by the articulating organs. All consonants that have tone are of this class, e.g. b, 1, m, ng, z, etc.
3. Atonics are sounds without tone. They are breath modified by the articulating organs. All consonants that have no tone belong to this class, e.g. f, h, k, p, t, sh, etc.
The number of phonetic sounds has been variously estimated at from forty to forty-seven, but for all practical purposes the number may be placed at forty-three, as follows: